21st Century – The Age of Chaos

Dear friend Robert.

All old codgers remember the days… We remember the innocence of youngness. We remember how Grandma washed clothes with a scrub board, Dad cleaned the furnace and Mom ran the wringer washer. We remember in our young years walking innocently through many wooded areas searching for adventure, critters and newly discovered creeks where no child can roam today without parents. We remember food rationing, gasoline rationing, and blackout drills during the big war. We remember music and culture as it was then. We remember school days, friends, and dreaming about the future. The days were filled innocently with rocket launches, thousands of comic books, the Poor Soul, and Enoch Pratt Library. We remember afternoons spent downtown at the Laugh Movie and eating at Read’s and Neddick’s. These memories will never disappear. Our growing years are locked in our memory forever. Even more, we old codgers are our memories!

Thinking back that far, we cannot deny that today is quite different. But until the Viet Nam War and Ronald Reagan, middle-American culture sustained the nation. The culture was firm enough to sustain context as each generation and every worldly change came along. Things changed but they changed without threatening the basic character of the nation.

As the mariner writes posts for “The Blog of the Ancient Mariner,” he reflects on change in a culture which no longer sustains a stable national gestalt. For most readers, the mariner points out substantive shifts in the world that are not typically the fodder of daily awareness. Sadly, because there is no common core in society, change is helter-skelter, e.g, tossing out liberal arts under the pressure of a slipping economy and an oligarchic, every man for himself, philosophy of life; tossing the baby out with the bath. There is no plan for the future. Consequently, change is more an experience of “progress” with a large wake of trashed values. Chaos is existential: live for today; who knows what tomorrow may bring?

The mariner has confessed many times that he is an incarnation of the Old Testament prophet Amos who railed against the laxity of reverence to God and the slipping morals of society. No one liked him either. The mariner also confesses that he is an incarnation of Chicken Little, a child’s avatar for angst. Apologies for the compound effect of being a raging goat herder and a squawking chicken.

You make a valid point that the mariner is quick to judge but does not offer tasks and solutions for his readers. He will make amends. One must note that chaos often doesn’t have solutions. In the midst of global warming, population growth, keeping the Earth sound as well as safe and historic shifts in political power and economy, solutions are hard to come by. The only advice the mariner can offer is to vote wisely, vote spiritually, and vote for the return of stewardship and compassion. Also, do not waste food or water, support those institutions and charities you believe are important to manage change. No matter how ragged and abused, US democracy still works. The people have the power to reign in chaos.

Ancient Mariner

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